Mosquitoes are highly adaptable insects that can inhabit almost any environment, with the exception of extreme cold weather. They are commonly found in forests, marshes, tall grasses, and areas with wet ground for at least part of the year. Mosquitoes require water to thrive, so their habitats can be broadly categorized into two types: permanent water and floodwater environments.
Permanent Water Mosquitoes
Permanent water mosquitoes typically lay their eggs in clusters called rafts, consisting of 50 to 300 eggs, on the surface of standing water at the edges of lakes and ponds or amidst the vegetation in swamps and marshes. Some species prefer clean water, while others, like Culex pipiens (the northern house mosquito), prefer stagnant or polluted water.
Common permanent water mosquito species include Culex and Anopheles mosquitoes. These mosquitoes are most active when the average temperature is above 70 degrees Fahrenheit. Their eggs require water to survive and generally hatch within a couple of days, releasing larvae that begin the development process.
Many permanent water mosquitoes can also breed in containers that collect and hold water, such as wading pools, buckets, or toys left outside.
Floodwater mosquitoes lay their eggs in moist soil. The eggs, which can number up to one million per acre, will dry out as the ground does and subsequently hatch when heavy rains saturate the ground and water levels rise. Floodwater habitats include:
- Drainage ditches that fill during storms.
- Woodland pools created by melting snow or spring and early summer rains.
- Floodplains along the banks of streams and rivers.
- Irrigated pastures and fields.
- Meadows and other soft ground where depressions form.
Common floodwater mosquito species include Aedes vexans, also known as the inland floodwater mosquito. Mosquitoes that breed in floodwater habitats typically become problematic about seven to 10 days after heavy rain and subside within a week or two.
Floodwater mosquitoes can also breed in containers. Aedes albopictus (the Asian tiger mosquito) prefers the insides of old tires where dirty water collects, and Aedes triseriatus favors tree holes that gather rainwater.